Scientists in the International Panel on Climate Change convened in Stockholm this morning to confirm that humans are “extremely likely” to blame for “unequivocal” global warming since the 1950s. Though today’s summary contained few surprises after the IPCC’s “leak” campaign last month, the UN-sponsored panel warns that without “substantial and sustained reductions” of greenhouse gas emissions, extreme weather such as destructive droughts and intense heat waves will become the norm.

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The IPCC used the strongest language yet to describe the relationship between human action and climate change in today’s landmark meeting, forecasting an accelerated rise in climate change impacts. The panel dismissed the controversial slowdown in warming over the past 15 years, saying the “hiatus” doesn’t reflect long-term trends. Even if greenhouse gases stopped all together, the IPCC says, the effects of climate change will likely continue for many centuries. “The heat is on. We must act,” said UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

Depending on how much governments curb carbon emissions, scientists predict a 0.5 – 8.6 degree Fahrenheit rise in global temperatures by the end of the century. Burning fossil fuels has caused a 40 percent increase in carbon dioxide concentrations since preindustrial levels. Scientists say that it’s “virtually certain” that the upper ocean has warmed from 1971 to 2010 and that the third of carbon dioxide absorbed has further acidified the oceans, making it more difficult to sustain marine life. Sea levels are also expected to rise at an unprecedented rate by another 10 – 32 inches by the end of this century, largely due to melting glaciers around the world.

Climate change activists hope the report will spur governments to take action and provide impetus for creating stronger climate policy. In the meeting, Ban Ki-Moon also invited world leaders to an unprecedented summit next year to talk about the issue on a global scale.

Via The Guardian

Images via Owen Byrne, Wikimedia